“SCHOOL STREET” FOR OVERTON GRANGE SCHOOL

When students return to school at Overton Grange school in the autumn, they will be able to do so in greater safety and quiet than has been the case up to now.

Trish and Richard outside the school

The school will benefit from one of the first of our “quiet neighbourhood” initiatives to be implemented (see the post below) with a “school street”. This will enable the students to reach the school without traffic outside the school gate, as Ventnor Road will be closed between the Camborne Road junction and the bridge for a short period as the school day begins and ends. Richard comments that there is a “school street” at the primary school his grandson attends in Brixton and it certainly makes the process of delivering and collecting children safer and more pleasant.

CREATING QUIET NEIGHBOURHOODS

The reduction in traffic in our residential roads at the height of the lockdown brought quiet, clean air, blue skies and a wish to preserve the pleasant environment it created. We have obtained, from schemes established by the Government and the London Mayor to deal with the aftermath of the pandemic, funding for plans to maintain these advances. The schemes are trials and will be monitored throughout the initial six months. Normally the Council would consult extensively before their introduction but the offer of funding is for immediate action following emergence from lockdown, so the measures will be introduced and monitored to assess resident reaction and their impact. The principal proposals include, in our Ward:

* A proposal for a 20 mph speed limit area in the part of the Ward west of Brighton Road, bounded by Overton Road, Worcester Road, Grange Road and Camborne Road. There is a history of traffic accidents, and speeding vehicles, in this area, and requests from residents for action

* The Permit Parking Area (PPA) planned for roads from Mayfield Road running east as far as Banstead Road South, which residents strongly supported in consultation exercises, will be introduced shortly. This should reduce traffic and parking in this area

* A proposal for an extension of the 20 mph speed limit area in Langley Park Road to roads to the east, as far as Banstead Road South. This includes the part of the Ward where a PPA is to be introduced, so the reduced parking will lead to speeding, which has to be dealt with to maintain the peace and quiet of these residential roads

* A proposal, experimentally, for a “modal filter” (allowing cyclists and pedestrians to cross but not other vehicles) to reduce traffic rat running north to south through the area, at Kings Lane. This will be subject to assessment after introduction and maintained if there is resident support. The impact on traffic in Langley Park Road and other local roads will be monitored. A proposal for a second filter, in Langley Park Road, remains in the programme but will not be implemented while Sutton Court Road is closed at the west end, and will be subject to review in the light of an assessment of the impact on traffic in the area from the Kings Lane filter

* The concept of “school streets” or other measures to deal with traffic at the school gates, is being discussed, closing the road where the school is situated to traffic when school students are arriving and leaving, so they can do so in safety and quiet. In particular, the closure of Ventnor Road when Overton Grange students are arriving and leaving has been under discussion and is to be implemented in the autumn.

These improvements will help maintain the peace of the quiet residential roads in our Ward, improve air quality, make the area more pleasant for walking and cycling, and benefit the neighbourhood. We hope to create a neighbourhood with less noise, less non-residential traffic, less speeding, cleaner air and a safer and more pleasant environment, promoting walking and cycling.

The proposals also respond to the many of the concerns raised by residents in the survey last year supporting the Council’s Liveable Neighbourhoods bid to the Mayor of London. These were:

1. Too much rat-running traffic
2. A wish for more trees, plants, greenery
3. A need for improvement to air-quality
4. A need for slower vehicle speeds on residential roads
5. More pedestrian crossings on main roads
6. More welcoming streets for walking
7. More welcoming streets for cycling

We will be monitoring closely the impact of these measures. Normally the Council would consult extensively before their introduction but the offer of funding is for immediate action following emergence from lockdown, so the measures will be introduced and monitored to assess resident reaction and their impact. It is intended that they will be implemented by October, to meet the conditions set by the Government and the Mayor.

On the criteria for evaluation of the temporary schemes, this is what TfL are asking us to use.

We will look at a range of factors when considering whether or not to make a temporary scheme permanent. These include the:

  • Effects the scheme has had and could continue to have on road safety and pedestrian overcrowding
  • Number of cyclists and pedestrians who have used each scheme
  • Contribution each scheme makes to the look and feel of the local area
  • Impact of the scheme on traffic, including the bus network
  • Feedback from the public and other stakeholders
  • Impact of the scheme on people protected under the Equality Act 2010

By way of background, the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods scheme was set up by the Conservative Government in consultation with the Labour London Mayor.  A total of 859 schemes are being trialled across London for six months from September, and the rules for these schemes were set up by Central Government at very short notice. The Government asked for bids from every London Borough in mid May that had to be made within just a month, by 22nd June, which is not ideal. 

The choice of areas was based on past requests to Local Committees, suggestions made by residents, and proposals previously made under the Transport for London (TfL) Liveable Neighbourhoods bid. 

The Department for Transport advise that the six months long trials of the temporary schemes will enable further consultation if it is intended to make any of the schemes permanent. The benefit of a trial is that one can see if a scheme works or does not work, or can be improved. Where these schemes have been set up elsewhere in London they have often proved popular with residents.

In normal non- Covid times, we would have expected longer notice of bidding for schemes to allow for public consultation and tr but the Government did not allow the usual process (which normally takes some months), on this occasion, as the timescale was telescoped into a very short one, of one month only.   

PLANNING APPLICATION FOR TOWER BLOCK AT BRIGHTON ROAD/ COPSE HILL JUNCTION THROWN OUT BY PLANNING INSPECTORATE

Dunsfold Court in Blackbush Close is opposite the site and residents already say it is difficult to find a parking space

There are further developments on the succession of planning applications to build a tower block on the site that includes numbers 2 and 4 Copse Hill (including The Whitehouse Dental Surgery, 2 Copse Hill, Sutton. SM2 6AD) plus an adjacent block at 52-54 Brighton Road. The first application proposed over-intensive development of the site, to erect a block of flats with 65 flats. We considered this overdevelopment of the site, incongruous in the local context and likely to cause unacceptable problems relating to parking in the area, with an inadequate number of parking places proposed for 65 flats in an area that already has a shortage of parking spaces.

Following representations that we, together with many residents, made concerning this planning application, it was turned down by Council Planning Officers.

It was turned down for a number of reasons including the scale, mass and bulk of the development, the quantum of development representing an overdevelopment of the site, the lack of affordable housing and technical reasons such as the lack of biodiversity accounting.

The developer lodged an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. We now have the the Planning Inspectorate’s decision – to reject the appeal.

The developer has, however, submitted a further planning application. It is essentially the same application but with a bit of trimming to try to meet the objections to the previous application – for example it is now 55 flats not 65. This is application DM2020/00632. We await the views of the Council’s planning officers.


The site of the proposed block, viewed from Brighton Road

BLACK LIVES MATTER

Trish, our Mayor, addresses a vast but socially distanced crowd at the Black Lives Matter event

On 20 June Trish and Richard attended an event at the open space opposite St Helier hospital to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

It was difficult to estimate the size of the crowd as it was spread out over a vast area to ensure social distancing. The police attended to ensure social distancing was observed, which it was. Trish made an excellent and impassioned speech, as did her daughter Lauren. Lauren told us that the previous day she had submitted, as part of her University course, a dissertation on mental illness in prisons. A finding had been that BAME prisoners were much more likely to be affected. Councillor Dombey also spoke.

VISIBILITY AT KINGS LANE

The railway bridge at Kings Lane poses problems for drivers – seeing whether there is a car at the other side of the bridge waiting to cross. The vegetation grows up on the railway embankment and obscures sight lines. It has taken Richard some work with Network Rail to get them to cut it back.

THE BOUNDARIES OF OUR WARD WILL CHANGE: FINAL DECISIONS PUBLISHED BY THE BOUNDARY COMMISSION

Are the boundaries of Sutton South Ward right?

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England has been reviewing the boundaries of the local Government Wards in Sutton prior to the next local elections in 2022.

They published draft proposals last year and have now published final decisions. You can view these on their website.

Their final decisions leave the Ward much as it was, with the addition of a part of Mulgrave Road. The new structure they outline will be the structure of Wards at the next Council elections in 2022. The new Ward will be one of the largest Wards in the borough.

Currently the Ward runs from Sutton station in the north to Devonshire Road in the south, and Banstead Road South in the east to Overton Road in the west. It is mostly a Ward of residential roads with three schools (Devonshire Avenue primary, Overton Grange, Eagle House school), one small park (the Devonshire Avenue Nature Area), three places of worship (Christchurch, the Friends’ Meeting House, the synagogue in Cedar Road), split into three parts by Langley Park Road and Brighton Road running north-south.

The draft proposals published earlier this year removed from the Ward roads east of Upland Road – Kaymoor, Willis, Prior, Downside, Farm Close – and put them into Carshalton Beeches Ward. There were minor adjustments at the western end so the whole Ward moved westwards.

In drawing up new boundaries, the Commission is required to aim to deliver electoral equality for voters in Council elections so that each Councillor represents roughly the same number of voters. The review also aimed to ensure that the new Council wards reflect, as far as possible, the interests and identities of communities across Sutton.

The final proposals leave the Ward much as it was, with the addition of a small part of Mulgrave Road. The new Ward will be one of the largest Wards in the borough.

After a debate on 14 October Sutton Council submitted some proposals. Richard spoke in this debate, commenting in particular on the proposals fro Sutton South Ward. He said:

“I recognise that there is always a tension between drawing lines on maps that create sensible geographical structures in terms of communities and natural boundaries and getting the numbers right in terms of residents per Councillor. I would like to stress that where these create tensions I think it important to give priority to getting the boundaries right, creating areas that residents recognise as communities, in particular respecting natural boundaries such as main roads and railway lines, and keeping recognised communities together, and this should be the priority even if it does lead to some unevenness in Ward sizes. In any exercise like this there will inevitably be some disparity in the size of Wards with some outliers.”

EXCITING NEW STREET ART AT SUTTON STATION

The artwork viewed from the north
The artwork viewed from the south

The renowned artist Lionel Stanhope has brightened up our Ward. The painting, on the railway bridge at Sutton station, is not easy to photograph, so what is shown below is a CGI of the artwork created before the painting was undertaken. What is above, is the painting.

The railway bridge at Sutton station has been brightened up with a painting by the renowned artist Lionel Stanhope, whose art has brightened up many railway stations. Stanhope completed the painting in four days starting on 26 May. Stanhope is regarded by many as a better and more important street artist than Banksy. We have been pleased to support this project which brings an attractive feature to add interest to the area.The façade of the railway bridge, as you come out of Sutton station and turn left,was a patchwork of various colours. The Council first tried to interest Network Rail in making the bridge look more attractive, over four years ago, during the “Sutton Gateway” project, which involved re-paving the area around the station and the installation of the clock opposite Sutton station. The artwork has been mainly funded by Network Rail, with a small contribution from Sutton Council.
The parapet of the bridge required extensive cleaning and preparation before the painting commenced. Lionel Stanhope produced a design which incorporates the word “Sutton” in the typeface traditionally used by Southern railway, and a depiction of the historic Sutton locomotive. The locomotive “Sutton” came into the possession of the Council many years ago and is a 144 year old, 28 tonne, 26 feet, A1 class Terrier steam engine. It is currently with a heritage railway undertaking in Tunbridge Wells who have undertaken to restore it.
The painting is an addition to an area becoming famous for its street art. Within two hundred yards you can find the remarkable statue “The Messenger”, located directly outside the entrance to Quadrant House in The Quadrant. The Messenger is a statue, a sculpture in bronze with very dark patination, completed by David Wynne in 1981, of a large horse and rider. It was a major commission for the sculptor, who died in 2014. It took four years to complete from his first idea and inspiration, on receipt of the brief – through roughing out, refining and casting in a foundry, to the final unveiling and installation.
We are not including a photograph of the statue in this post due to the philistine attitude of the owners of Quadrant House, who do not cherish this artwork and have stuck a notice on the front of it about some aspect of building maintenance, thus disfiguring it. They have been unco-operative in the face of requests to remove the notice.
Even more striking is the remarkable mural by the famous Spanish “street” artist from Bilbao, Eva Mena, on a wall in nearby Wellesley Road. This is said to be of the American singer and musician Erykah Badu. The work was commissioned by the owners of the building, Indepth Hygiene Services. It was painted in three days in 2010, when the artist came over from Spain to paint it. It is entirely typical of her street art, which is to be found on walls in many parts of the world, including Egypt, Ireland and Spain, as well as Sutton. Eva Mena is said to be more famous than Banky in her native Spain.

TRISH ELECTED MAYOR OF SUTTON

Trish wearing the chain of office made for her by Devonshire Avenue Primary School children

On 18 May Sutton Council elected Trish as Mayor of Sutton for the coming municipal year. This is four years after Richard served a year as Mayor.

Trish’s election was at a Council meeting unlike any previously held, as it was a “virtual” meeting held by videoconference due to the impossibility of Councillors meeting in person during the current coronavirus pandemic. Every Councillor was at home and joining the meeting by video so Trish was unable to don the Mayoral chain of office, which is in a safe at the civic offices. However, the schoolchildren at Devonshire Avenue primary school had made a chain of office, with a number of roundels each one of which had the name of a group of key workers that have helped save lives during the pandemic. Trish’s charity appeal will be for Sutton Mental Health Foundation and for Homestart, a charity that assists families in challenging situations.

The day after her election Trish visited Devonshire primary school to thank the children for making her chain
Trish’s chain – made by the children

TRISH AND RICHARD RAISE CONCERNS OVER THE FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF NORTHUMBERLAND HOUSE

Northumberland House viewed from Brighton Road

Trish and Richard have been in discussion with Criterion Capital, the owners of Northumberland House. Northumberland House is the tower block at the corner of Brighton Road and Wellesley Road, about 200 yards along Brighton Road if you turn left when coming out of Sutton station.They are seeking planning permission to extend the building, creating a further 36 flats by having two extra storeys on the ten storey part of the building and an extra storey on the lower part, with some additional flats in the”undercroft” above the parking area. A few of the 47 parking spaces will be lost, due to a need for additional bin space.

The application is number DM2020/00571. Residents have until 27 June to register objections. There will be some positives, such as the creation of a community amenity and play space on the tarmaced area at ground floor level. However, while there is a shortage of accommodation in London and more housing is needed,we are concerned that the building work has the potential to be disruptive to the lives of current residents. Also, an extra two storeys on top of the building may look incongruous if clearly out of keeping with the design of the rest of the building.

We are continuing to seek the views of the residents of the building, and residents in the wider area, on these proposals. Residents of Northumberland House have been concerned about the likely disruption involved in this proposed work, and have long standing concerns about frequent lift breakdowns in the building and security. We are aware that if Sutton Council refuses planning permission the developer has a right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, which, we find, almost invariably sides with developers on applications such as this. One thing we can do as local Councillors, however, is to try to identify conditions that will protect the interests of residents, and that we could then try to get built into any planning permission they obtain. For example, we can seek to ensure there is a construction management plan to control hours of work and control noise and dust nuisance. We can ask that the contractor joins the Considerate Contractors Scheme, which provides a route for residents to raise concerns if they observe poor behaviour. We can seek conditions that will require that access to the roof areas is only by external hoists, and that the peace and quiet of the interior of the building is not disturbed or the interior turned into a storage area, or building site. We will also want the views of residents more widely on the design. We would like your ideas and views.

A LISTED STRUCTURE IN OUR WARD!

The drain pressure release pipe in Hillcroome Road

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, advised by Historic England, has added to the National Heritage List for England the historic sewer pipe in Hillcroome Road.

This structure thus becomes the only structure in our Ward to be nationally listed as of historic and architectural significance, so it could only be altered or have work done on it if listed building consent was obtained. There are three other buildings in our Ward that are listed on the Local List of structures of local importance, which provides a lesser degree of protection. These are:

  • the Registrar’s office (The Russetings) in Worcester Road, a Victorian house that it is believed the Walls family, famous for Walls ice cream and Walls sausages, lived in, though this is disputed
  • Stowford in Brighton Road, a Victorian house, now the Eagle House school
  • the pavilion of the Highfield Lawns tennis club at the junction of Mayfield Road and The Ridgway, as an example of an Edwardian tennis pavilion, build by local builder Percy Vere Windebank in 1908

These Drain Pressure Release Pipes, also known as ‘Stink Pipes’, can be seen at various locations within the old Carshalton Urban District Council boundary. They have been listed on the basis of the criterion that they are important to the townscape view.

They were produced by W. Macfarlane & Co. of Glasgow, a prestigous Victorian Ironworks. The company employed imaginative designers and produced huge amounts of ornate and decorative ironwork. The pipes are extremely tall with an ornate top fixture comprising a large arrow, a globe with four trumpetlike funnels and a spike spire piercing a crown. The height and funnels may be to ensure the gas disperses efficiently so as not to inconvenience local residents. It is not known what purpose the arrow has, whether to indicate the direction of sewer flow or act as a weather vane to indicate wind direction.

They serve two purposes, firstly to prevent a build up of pressure in underground sewers in the event of a blockage, and secondly to vent off any hydrogen sulphide gas. This gas, which smells of rotten eggs, can build up when sewage becomes septic, on long runs, or when the speed of the sewage is slow in flat areas. It is extremely corrosive and can eat through the concrete pipes. The sewerage system would have become a necessity after the rapid increases in population and residences in Sutton and Carshalton at the end of the 1800s. Prior to this sewage would have been dispersed into cesspits and drainage ditches, with a risk of contamination of the drinking water supply, contributing to ill health.

The history of W. Macfarlane and Co. and their foundry, the Saracen Foundry, is fascinating. In 1851 Walter Macfarlane (1817-1885) established his company in a disused foundry in Saracen Lane in Gallowgate, Glasgow, and named it Saracen Foundry. It later moved to Washington Street, near the River Clyde. By 1872 his nephew, also named Walter MacFarlane (1853–1932), joined the rapidly expanding company and they relocated to Possilpark, a site of 100 acres on the outskirts of the city. Here a foundry with railway access and a village-styled infrastructure to house the workforce was built. In a decade it housed 10,000 people but the vast iron-founding site caused much pollution. The young MacFarlane made standardisation and good design the key to the company’s successful development. The foundry’s work was used on prestigous developments and widely distributed. During the Second World War Possilpark industrial works was a vast and well-lit target for attack. The recovery of iron to melt down for the war effort also removed much of Saracen’s work. After the war, the collapse of the British Empire, the move away from steam power and the use of new designs and materials led to a vast decline in orders. In 1967 the foundry at Possilpark closed.